Police Harassment and a Citizen’s Constitutional Rights

police harassmentAs American citizens, we expect police to treat us fairly and keep us safe. It is their foremost responsibility to protect the public, an often difficult task, and that includes protecting our Constitutional and civil rights.

Though they encounter challenging situations as a matter of duty, they are trained to respect and comply with Constitutional, federal and state laws. Nevertheless, during a police encounter, emotions can escalate. However, that doesn’t excuse police from exceeding their lawful powers and harassing citizens.

The Constitution’s 5th and 14th amendments prohibit all levels of government, which includes the police, from unfairly or arbitrarily depriving individuals of their rights to life, liberty, and property. Section 1 of the California Constitution states the very same protections.

The “Due Process” of Law

An example of a due process violation is when the police arbitrarily stop, detain, or demand information from a citizen when no crime is being committed, and with no apparent evidence that a crime may be committed. In these situations, if a citizen is stopped by police but not detained or arrested for a crime, they are not required to answer officer questions and are lawfully free to leave an interrogation.

Further, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act made illegal use of “public” funds to discriminate based on race, color, and national origin. So, when an American citizen has been unlawfully stopped or detained by police whose salaries are paid by citizen’s tax dollars, it’s referred to as “racial profiling” and is a violation of Title VI.

This type of conduct by police also violates a citizen’s Constitutional “due process” rights and is considered harassment. In addition to the above types of conduct, police harassment includes illegal detention; racial and ethnic profiling; making racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks; illegal surveillance and spying; and illegal search and seizure of property.

All United States people, regardless of immigration or citizenship status, have rights should they be stopped or detained by police, that include the following protections by the U.S. Constitution’s 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments:

  • To say out loud that they wish to remain silent,

  • To refuse search of one’s body, car, or home without probable cause,

  • To leave calmly if they are not under arrest,

  • To obtain a lawyer if arrested.

Under the protection of the U.S. and California Constitution and Title VI, if you’ve been harassed by police, you have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and gain administrative remedy for the police harassment you experienced. It may also be reasonable to file a lawsuit after filing the complaint with the DOJ.

Though police harassment is often incredibly difficult to prove, citizens who have been harassed by police have options. If the incident was videotaped or compelling audio was captured, this evidence can help build a case against the police officers who engaged in illegal conduct, or their agency for endorsing their actions or failing to reprimand them.    

However, filing DOC complaints and/or lawsuits is a complex process that the average person isn’t equipped to handle. That’s where the law firm of V. James DeSimone can help.

If your case qualifies after you provide information to our intake team, the attorneys at V. James DeSimone Law will meet with you at no cost to determine whether you may be able to recover damages for the police harassment you experienced. With our extensive knowledge of Constitutional and civil rights law, if you have a legitimate case, we have the resources and skills necessary to investigate, interview witnesses, file a DOC complaint, and lawsuit when necessary and hold the police officer(s) responsible for their illegal conduct.

With more than 30 years of experience winning numerous Million dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients whose civil rights have been violated, we have the skills, knowledge, and resources to build a case against the police and see it through to a just resolution.

If you believe you were harassed by the police, the civil rights attorneys at V. James DeSimone Law can determine if your case meets the requirements for filing a complaint, we’re equipped to pursue your case until you are fairly compensated for your damages.

At no cost to you, a V. James DeSimone attorney will meet with you and review what happened, then advise you whether you may have legitimate monetary and other recourse against the police. And if we take you on as a client, we don’t get paid until we win your case.

Call 310-693-5561 today to speak with a V. James DeSimone attorney personally before your time to file a complaint runs out.  

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